“RAY & LIZ is a natural progression from previous photography and video work about my family.” Richard Billingham
RAY & LIZ is Turner-prize nominated and Deutsche Börse Prize winning artist Richard Billingham’s first feature film. Working with cinematographer Daniel Landin (Jonathan Glazer's UNDER THE SKIN), Richard returns to the striking photographs that he captured of his family during Thatcher-era Britain to tell a universal story of everyday conflicts, loneliness, love and loss.
On the outskirts of Birmingham and the margins of society the Billingham family perform extreme rituals and break cultural taboos as they muddle through a life decided by factors beyond their control. At times shocking and laced with an unsettling humour, three-interlinking episodes unfold as a powerful evocation of the artist’s personal experience of growing up in a Black Country council flat.
In 1990, alcohol makes Richard's father Ray a prisoner in his own bedroom. Ray’s estranged wife Liz and neighbour Sid battle for control of Ray, who remains hopeful that Liz will return to him if he manipulates her through his self-destruction.
A decade or so earlier, Richard’s younger brother Jason – then three years old – is left alone with his hapless Uncle Lol. Richard’s older half-brother, tricks Lol into drinking the stash of alcohol hidden in the house and neglecting Jason. Liz violently punishes him upon her return.
In 1985 Jason, now 10 years old, goes out with a friend on Bonfire Night but can’t find his way home and ends up sleeping in a shed. He is finally taken into care. When a social worker breaks the news to Ray and Liz, Liz cries a little, but quickly forgets…
We have shot one third of RAY & LIZ, and secured funding to shoot the remaining two parts of this film, in Autumn 2016. However, we need to fund development work now. We need your help to move forward with casting, production design, and securing locations.
Over the course of my career, I have produced numerous works for gallery, broadcast, stage and cinema by artists including Ben Rivers, Marina Abramovic, Apichatpong Weerasethakul and James Franco. I’ve always admired Richard’s work and when Richard and I met in 2010 we began to develop a film based on his memories of a chaotic early life growing up just outside Birmingham. The vision for the film was to return to Richard's early depictions of his family, bringing to life the stories behind the powerful photographs that have had such a huge impact on their viewers. I teamed up with Richard to produce the first part of RAY & LIZ in 2014. Simply titled RAY, it is an installation work that documents the life of Richard’s father in 1990, when alcohol had made him a prisoner in his own bedroom. RAY has been exhibited at Glynn Vivian Gallery, Swansea, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and recently in EMBODIED: a group show at Nikolaj Kunsthal in collaboration with CPH:DOX in Copenhagen – but the story does not end there. There are two more parts to complete and we need your help to make RAY & LIZ a feature film for a wider audience.
Acclaimed British artist and photographer Richard Billingham was born in Cradley Heath in 1970. Whilst studying Fine Art at the University of Sunderland, he began taking photographs of his family as source material for his paintings. One of his tutors spotted the snapshots and recognised their extraordinary power as artworks in their own right. Shortly after graduating in 1996, a collection of Richard’s family photographs was published for the first time in book form, entitled RAY'S A LAUGH. Richard won the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize the next year and was included in the famous Saatchi SENSATION exhibition alongside Tracey Emin, Sarah Lucas and Damien Hirst. He was commissioned to make FISHTANK, by Artangel and BBC2. This ground-breaking documentary work had a television audience of over 2 million and an international festival life. He has gone on to produce many more extraordinary photographic series including BLACK COUNTRY, ZOO, CONSTABLE and PANORAMA.
“RAY & LIZ is a concentration of my own lived experience of growing up in a tower block on a council flat during Thatcher-era Britain. By sticking true to real life, lived experience and observation I want to recreate a world that can only have come about from my being a witness to it."
“Throughout the film Ray and Liz’s relationship is tested by poverty, addiction and being sold short of the better things in life. But against a framework of this I also want to show a world unseen. In the early 90s I began photographing my father Ray, with the intention of making paintings. I grew increasingly interested in the photographs, in composition, mood, texture, shape and form."
“It was not my intention to shock, to offend, sensationalise, or be political, only to make work that is truthful. RAY & LIZ is a natural progression from previous photography and video work about my family.”
- Richard Billingham, 2015
Daniel Landin is the cinematographer of RAY & LIZ. Daniel collaborates with his unique cinematic eye and extensive expertise alongside Richard's directorial vision of the dramatisation of his family life. We worked with Daniel to produce the beautiful and moving installation work RAY in 2014. Some of this material will make up part of the film RAY & LIZ. Daniel was cinematographer for UNDER THE SKIN, directed by Jonathan Glazer and starring Scarlett Johansson, and has worked on numerous iconic music videos for artists including Bjork, Radiohead and Madonna.
Part I, RAY is set in the early 90s; for this we cast:
RAY: Patrick Romer recently performed in A LIFE OF GALILEO (Birmingham Rep/Theatre Royal Bath/RSC). Other credits include: THE ORPHAN OF ZHAO (RSC), BORIS GODUNOV (RSC), PRIMEVAL (Impossible Pictures), CASUALTY (BBC), ROBINSON CRUSOE (NBC), THE PROJECT (BBC), THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH (Eon Productions), THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH (Punchdrunk)
LIZ: Deirdre Kelly, aka White Dee, came to public attention as the star of Channel 4 series BENEFITS STREET, a candid documentary revealing the lives of residents on one of Britain’s most benefit-dependent streets. She then went onto appear in last year’s CELEBRITY BIG BROTHER, finishing fifth in the competition.
SID: Richard Ashton was born on October 2, 1965 in Manchester, England. He is an actor, known for THE FIFTH ELEMENT (1997), THE NEW ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (1997) and CALENDAR GIRLS (2003).
Parts 2 and 3 are set in the early 80s. In April we will commence casting to find the younger versions of Ray and Liz as well as Richard, Jason, Lol and others.
We have secured significant support from a combination of individuals and institutions, including fashion designer and gallery owner agnès b (a close friend of Richard’s) and the British Film Institute. This enabled us to shoot the first third of the film, RAY and will fund the actual shoot of the remaining sections in Autumn.
However, RAY & LIZ remains a real labour of love for all those involved. I have two main reasons for launching a Kickstarter campaign:
- We need to raise money to fund development work to be done now, so we can cast the film, start production design and secure locations. Although incredibly important, the money is not everything.- Perhaps an even more compelling reason to do a Kickstarter campaign is that it's a great way to find and develop our audience and we really want to connect with fans of Richard's work, as well as reaching out to new audiences for this film before its release in 2017.
Backing this campaign will put you in good company. RAY & LIZ has been developed with the help and support of:
OWN A PIECE OF THE FILM
We are shooting on 16mm, because we love film. We have shot part of the film already and have made a 35mm print, to share this magical physical material with you. You will receive 8 frames of film and a sticker kit
4 FILM STILL COASTERS:
Enjoy a drink on RAY & LIZ. Sets of coasters depicting beautiful scenes and details from the film. Available as a reward for £30 pledges, or £50 for a set signed by Richard Billingham.
RARE VINTAGE POSTERS, SIGNED BY RICHARD BILLINGHAM:
Commissioned by agnès b and edited by international curator, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Billingham's edition of "point d'ironie" comprises of two double sided posters depicting Ray and Tony, Richard's friend. Posters signed by the artist.
Available as a reward for £30 pledges, or, pledge £50 to receive two sets, enabling you to display all 4 artworks at once.
SIGNED COPY OF ERRATA BOOKS ON BOOKS EDITION OF RICHARD BILLINGHAM'S RAY'S A LAUGH:
SIGNED COPY OF RARE RICHARD BILLINGHAM BOOK, ZOO:
Richard's major series, ZOO, was inspired by childhood trips to Dudley Zoo. Own a signed, brand new, hardback edition of the book.
SIGNED COPY OF RARE RICHARD BILLINGHAM BOOK, BLACK COUNTRY:
Richard's series, BLACK COUNTRY is a major reference point for the section of RAY & LIZ that focuses on his brother Jason. Own a signed, brand new, hardback edition of the book.
SIGNED COPY OF RARE RICHARD BILLINGHAM BOOK, RICHARD BILLINGHAM:
This catalogue accompanied the exhibition at Ikon Gallery that won Billingham a nomination for The Turner Prize in 2001.
RAY & LIZ, 1995. SPECIAL LIMITED EDITION RICHARD BILLINGHAM PHOTOGRAPH
The first 12 editions of Ray and Liz, 1995 have been snapped up already!
Edition numbers 13-20 are now available at £700. When those are all gone, the remaining 5 prints will be available as rewards for pledges of £1,000.
RICHARD BILLINGHAM LIMITED EDITION FRAMED PANORAMIC PHOTOGRAPH
Three works available from Billingham's landscape series, 2008 which hint at Billingham's later move towards cinema. Each of the three framed works are of an edition of 5 + 1 Artist's Proof.
Backers should email Miranda Townsend at firstname.lastname@example.org to specify which of the three landscapes they would like to select.
RICHARD BILLINGHAM LIMITED EDITION FRAMED PHOTOGRAPH, POLAR BEAR, ZOO SERIES:
The ZOO series are regarded as some of Billingham's most significant works. The series was inspired by childhood trips to Dudley Zoo.
As is common practice with crowd-funding rewards, an element of the contribution is a donation and will be identified as such on a VAT receipt. If you require a VAT receipt, please email email@example.com.
Risks and challenges
Jacqui Davies's extensive experience as a producer means we are well aware of all the potential risks and challenges of film-making.
We have funding support from major institutions already lined up and have an excellent team of very established industry figures heading up each production department.
- (38 days)